The first semester of the 2019-20 school year will wrap up Jan. 17. With only a couple weeks after our return from winter break, Pequot Lakes students will have a short window of time before teachers will begin wrapping up their grade books on the first half of the year.

Our teachers have a grading day Jan. 20 (no classes in session) and in short time, report cards will go home with students. With that said, a very timely email hit my inbox in late December that I feel compelled to share.

As a principal, my email inbox is inundated with blog updates, monthly listservs and articles about everything from best practice teaching methods to the impact of screen time (and everything in between). I find these short reads to be thought-provoking and highly impactful in my decision-making in my role at PLMS, youth coaching and as a dad.

I can credit my wife with the most recent article that had me really reflecting upon how we, as parents/guardians, have incredible influence upon our children. It came in the form of a bi-weekly email from Love and Logic Education.

Love and Logic, a research based parenting model focused on the whole child, has been around since the late 1970s. Their mission is built on a platform dedicated to educate parents/guardians on the science of caring and respectful relationships, with the hopes of developing an authentic and loving connection between parents and their children.

Noting that grades can be incredibly stressful for all those involved, when those grade reports come at the end of the month, consider heeding this advice if your child’s report card has less than desirable marks.

A “bad” report card carries a lot more than Ds and Fs; it also carries emotions that leave many adults experiencing frustration, anger, fear, guilt and even shame. Fortunately, bad grades don’t mean bad parents/guardians, a bad kid or a bad future for that kid. Instead, they represent an opportunity for us to express our unconditional love and provide wise guidance.

When these opportunities arise, consider one of the following tips:

  1. Hand It Back: This requires us as adults to express empathy while reminding yourself that your child’s report card is not YOUR report card. Try saying, “Oh, I can’t imagine how disappointing this must be for you. I love you.”

  2. Listen and remember that just a bit of loving silence is golden: When we talk too much we end up owning the problem. Instead, empathize, listen and provide a pat on the back or some form of consolation. Allow your child to think about the situation for a day before revisiting the discussion.

  3. Ask, "What do you think you are going to do?" This question is not just a question, but also a clear statement of your belief in your child’s ability to cope and find solutions. It communicates the message that, “Your grades are your grades, I am here to help but I can’t do this for you.”

  4. Focus on character over grades: Remember that though we can’t necessarily make our kids into great students, we can definitely foster a home environment that values the character traits of honesty, love of others, grit, acceptance and delayed gratification. When the adults resist the temptation to allow our own fears and frustrations to take over, we can dramatically increase the odds that our child will enjoy lifelong success.

I found this article, and many of the others produced by the Love and Logic team, to be thought provoking and impactful within our family. As we bring the first half of the school year to a close, it is my hope that you find these four tips equally valuable and consider checking out their work for yourself.

I hope you enjoyed your winter break with your family and we're happy to see our students back in 2020!